We are returning to our homeland; to the land of the Torah
Israel's approval of a controversial law on Jewish settlements cast a pall over a landmark meeting held Tuesday between Turkish and Israeli government ministers in Tel Aviv.
While Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin defended the law, passed Monday night by the Knesset (Israel's parliament), his Turkish counterpart, Nabi Avci, voiced his disapproval at an international tourism convention now being hosted by Israel.
"[At the meeting] I said I think this [law] is against international law and UN resolutions," Avci said.
"At the morning press conference, I said the Israeli High Court would probably decide in line with international law and UN resolutions [pertaining to Israeli settlement building]," he added.
Levin, for his part, admitted that the Israeli and Turkish positions on the issue differed, but said Israelis were returning to their ancestral "homeland" in line with Jewish religious tradition.
"We are returning to our homeland; to the land of the Torah as it was in the days of King David," he said.
"I hope the High Court will be loyal to the citizens of Israel… it’s time to commit to the national law. So, we don’t agree on everything," Levin added.
On Monday evening, the Knesset retroactively legalized Jewish-only outposts built on Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law.
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat described the legislation as "legalizing theft", while Israeli daily Haaretz quoted anonymous diplomatic sources as saying that a scheduled EU-Israel summit had been put on hold.
Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandelbilt is opposed to the law, saying it will increase the chances of Israel being brought before the International Criminal Court.